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On March 24th, 1999, President Clinton announced that the United States, along with NATO allies, had initiated air strikes against the Serbian forces of Slobodan Milosevic in Kosovo. After seventy-eight days of bombing, Milosevic agreed to withdraw his army from Kosovo. With no troops on the ground, political and military leaders congratulated themselves on the success of Operation Allied Force, considered to be the first military victory won through the use of strategic air power. This apparent triumph motivated military and political leaders to embrace a policy of precision munitions and air strikes as the preferred choice for answering military aggression and, eventually, inspired a similar air campaign ten years later against Muammar Gadaffi's forces in Libya as a wave of protests erupted into revolution.
Clean Bombs and Dirty Wars: Employing Air Power over Kosovo and Libya offers a fresh perspective on the role, relevance, and effectiveness of air power in contemporary warfare, including an exploration of the political motivations for its use as well as a candid examination of air-to-ground targeting processes. Using recently declassified archival materials from the William J. Clinton Presidential Library along with primary evidence culled from social media posted during the Arab Spring, author Robert Gregory shows that the extreme argument that air power "does it alone" and eliminates the necessity for boots on the ground is an artificial claim and that the popular perception forged in Kosovo and carried forth in Libyan operations--that air power succeeded without the need for a ground contingent--is illusory.